Choices. A Saturday full of choices. Think about all the choices the horsemen made and now think about all the choices you’ll make. Parx to see California Chrome? Charles Town for a stakes-packed card? The Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park? Or stay at home and play remote-control-racing? Here is your Saturday Special from Newbury to Charles Town for September 20.
Newbury. Race 2. 8:50 a.m.. The Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup. Grandeur makes first start since finishing second in the Bowling Green in July. It’s been raining, does that help or hurt?
Ayr. Race 2. 9:05. Celebrate Scotland’s dependence. The Firth of Clyde Stakes for 2-year-old fillies attracts 16. We like War Alert, an American-bred daughter of who else, War Front. What’s the Firth of Clyde, you ask? Go to Ayr, you’ll find out.
Newbury. Race 3. 9:20. The Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes. Undefeated Limato seeks his fourth win for Henry Candy.
Ayr. Race 3. 9:40. Want big fields? 28 runners going 6 furlongs in the William Hill Silver Cup.
Newbury. Race 4. 9:55. If you’re underwhelmed by short fields going 6 furlongs on the dirt, here’s a puzzle for you, 18 runners in a mile and a quarter handicap.
Ayr. Race 4. 10:15. Abseil, a son of First Defence, tries to right a three-race losing streak for Juddmonte. Bring him to America.
Newbury. Race 5. 10:30. The Dubai International Airport World Trophy. Group 3 stakes going 5 furlongs. Moviesta, by Hard Spun, needs to replicate his effort at Goodwood in August while 7-year-old Take Cover won’t face Sole Power here.
Ayr. Race 5. 10:50. The Ayr Gold Cup. 52 card pickup…27 runners go 6 furlongs. Fascinating to handicap and watch.
Listowel. Race 5. 11:20. Aidan O’Brien sends out even-money favorite Draco for J.P. McManus in the Cashen Novice Hurdle.
Catterick Bridge. Race 6. 12:05 p.m. Just love the variety in England. Races range from 6 to 7 to 12 to 14 furlongs over the eight-race card. Fifteen entered in the sixth, a handicap going 14 furlongs for a cool purse of $6,500.
Parx Racing. Race 3. 12:21. Maybe you can make money in this game…$88,000 purse offered for maiden 2-year-olds, “horses with the most starts at Parx in 2014 preferred.” Sweet On Smokey is the morning-line favorite, she was beaten for a $30,000 claiming tag at Monmouth in August and makes her first start at Parx, so much for that preference.
Listowel. Race 8. 1:00. Seven-time winner Rebel Fitz aims for his third win in a row after taking the Powers Gold Cup in April.
Finger Lakes. Race 1. 1:10. Michael Dilger ships Anstu Stable’s Che La Luna upstate for his debut.
Parx Racing. Race 5. 1:21. Chad Brown – who has slipped at Parx lately, he’s now 12-for-16 – seeks three in a row with Robert LaPenta’s Engine. A cool $90,000 is on the table for allowance horses.
Woodbine. Race 2. 1:28. Mile and a half maiden on the turf.
Delaware Park. Race 3. 2:11. Nothing like the turf. Motion, Sheppard, Matz, Goldberg, Albertrani and Clement wrestle for a $31,000 purses. Principessa Ava makes her American debut for Spirit Lake Enterprises and Sheppard.
Laurel Park. Race 4. 2:40. Remember Footlights? The 2007 New York Turf Writers Cup winner. Here’s her daughter, Underlights, a second-time starter by Scipion for Audrey Murray and Tim Keefe.
Delaware Park. Race 5. 3:07. The Kent Stakes. Opportunities abound on busy Saturdays. Jose Caraballo picks up the ride on Divine Oath for Pletcher, Mark Hennig tabs Alex Cintron for Cabo Cat, Michael Ritvo takes the call for Motion aboard Craftsman, Josh Navarro gets a shot aboard Bashart for Matz.
Parx Racing. Race 9. 3:25. Pennsylvania-breds compete for $100,000 in the Alphabet Soup. Pat Graham adds Lasix to Ivy Dell Stud’s Athelstane. Page McKenney seeks his fifth in a row for Adam Staple, Jalin Stable and Mary Eppler. If it rains, that’ll be fine, the son of Eavesdropper has won four off-the-turf races this year. Ellendale Racing’s Roadhog defends his title for Elizabeth Merryman and Kendrick Carmouche. And how about El Capitan, returning to his home state after winning four in a row, including the Mexican Derby.
Suffolk Downs. Race 7. 3:27. Better stop and watch some races from Suffolk, sounds like there won’t be many more. Juveniles compete for $18,000 for local stalwarts Assimakopoulos, Bernardini and Rigattieri.
Woodbine. Race 6. 3:31. Hillaby, a daughter of Distorted Humor and Sealy Hill, aims for her first stakes win for Mark Casse and Stonestreet Stable. She sold for $500,000 in the Melnyk dispersal this summer.
Parx Racing. Race 10. 4:00. The Gallant Bob, named for the only champion sprinter to try the jumps (it was a disaster at Saratoga many years ago). Camden Street, purchased by Hickory Tree Stables this summer, makes his first start on the dirt and first start away from Todd Pletcher. Quick Call winner Pure Sensation returns to the dirt for Patricia Generazio and Christophe Clement. Kathy Ritvo removes blinkers from Fast Anna, second to The Big Beast at Saratoga.
Belmont Park. Race 7. 4:13. Irish-bred Cash For Ever makes her debut for Eddie Kenneally after an easy win at Longchamp in May.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:35. Pender Harbour, winner of 12 races, looks huge in the Overskate.
Parx Racing. Race 11. 4:45. The Cotillion. Wow, what a race. Untapable, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose, takes on Sweet Reason, winner of the Test and Acorn. Stopchargingmaria, winner of the CCA Oaks and Alabama, was entered but might wait for the Beldame in the fall. Come on, run her. Sweet Reason relished her one-turn trips in the Acorn and Test, if she can muster the same rally going two turns…look out. Jimmy Jerkens, winning at nearly 30 percent this year, gave House Rules a confidence booster at Saratoga, Cassatt rolls in off three straight wins for Larry Jones and the rest have credentials as well. The race of the day.
– Read “Long Walk,” a column about Sweet Reason from The Saratoga Special this summer.
Belmont Park. Race 8. 4:45. The good news about American racing failing to keep on a schedule is that perhaps the Gallant Bloom and the Cotillion won’t actually run at the same time. In our experience, they seem to stay on a better schedule at Belmont so maybe this one comes first. Artemis Agrotera draws the rail again for Mike Hushion and Rajiv Maragh. She crushed older rivals in the Ballerina at Saratoga and should again in this Grade 2 stakes. Maragh was impressed at Saratoga, “She did everything very responsive, man, the way she powered up to the quarter pole, I said if she finds another gear, she’s going to blow them out of the water and she sure did.”
Churchill Downs. Race 9. 4:55. The Dogwood. Hope you have RTN…to keep up with all this action. Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Fiftyshadesofgold, Bird Maker and Thank You Marylou regroup after trying Sweet Reason (Parx) and Miss Behaviour (CT) in the Test.
Charles Town. Race 1. 5:00. In between the Cotillion and the Pennsylvania Derby, if you need action, watch In The Fairway go for win number 11 in the Dr. Ernest Benner Handicap.
Belmont Park. Race 9. 5:17. Strong looking group of 2-year-olds, including a couple of well-bred first-time starters and a couple who ran well in their debuts at Saratoga.
Charles Town. Race 2. 5:30. Still looking for action before California Chrome? Larry Curtis looks like he has a runner as Little Enemy seeks her first stakes win in the Rachel’s Turn.
Gulfstream Park. Race 9. 5:30. Guess it’s fall…Pletcher sends out first-time starter Sky Limit. Work tab? Saratoga, Belmont, Palm Beach Downs.
Parx Racing. Race 12. 5:40. The Pennsylvania Derby. A cool million dollars on the line for some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. California Chrome returns for his first race since the Belmont, Bayern returns for his first race since a disastrous Travers, Tapiture returns for his first race since winning the West Virginia Derby and others try to climb the wall. Come on Chrome.
Belmont Park. Race 10. 5:49. Two-year-olds on the turf.
Charles Town. Race 3. 6:01. Local star Lucy’s Bob Boy righted the ship after three consecutive losses, including a drubbing in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, to win his two most recent starts. He goes for win number 20 here. Local rival Russell Road, second behind Lucy in his two most recent starts, seeks win No. 28. He’s made $1.44 million in 39 starts at Charles Town.
Gulfstream Park. Race 10. 6:03. The Musical Romance. Gainesway’s Flores Island makes debut for Marty Wolfson, one of four entries for the Florida-based trainer. Nobody wants to win the race more than Musical Romance’s trainer William Kaplan, who sends out Holiday Magic and Quinnkat.
Penn National. Race 2. 6:27. Two-time winner Maserati makes first start for Amy Taylor and Paddy Young in a mile and a half allowance on the turf. Sheppard, Delacour, Merryman and Day stand in the way.
Indiana Grand Racecourse. Race 5. 6:57. A mile and three eighths on the turf. Find your jumpers.
Charles Town. Race 5. 7:05. Curtis has another runner, this time with Chester Stable’s King Of The Castle. A homebred of Cynthia Curtis Tucker, the 2-year-old son of Windsor Castle won his debut and draws the rail in the Henry Mercer Memorial. Wesley Ward ships Saratoga turf winner Lamontagne while John McKee and John Casey seem to have the rest.
Los Alamitos. Race 8. 8:30. The Claim of the Year? Seeking The Sherif, claimed for $12,500 in December, seeks win number four and first stakes win for Ron Ellis.
Charles Town. Race 9. 9:13. The Wild and Wonderful offers $100,000. Come on, let’s meet at Charles Town, this is some card. Pants On Fire was in Japan in December, he’s in West Virginia by September.
Charles Town. Race 10. 9:45. The Pink Ribbon at 7 furlongs for $100,000 overfilled.
Charles Town. Race 11. 10:30. Still Awake? You better be, the Charles Town Oaks caps the stellar card. Miss Behaviour tries to snap a streak of runner-up performances in the Victory Ride, Test and Prioress. Nobody will have a bigger local cheering section than Chuck Lawrence who sends out homebred Pixie Dust. Trainer Phil Schoenthal described Miss Behaviour at Saratoga, “It’s kind of scary. She’s getting better. It makes you realize good horses are just good horses, you’re so used to having cheaper kind of stock, and there’s nothing wrong with cheaper stock, but then you get around a good horse, you realize they breathe different air.”
Now, go to bed.